1 CHAPTER MEANING AND REFERENCE: SOME CHOMSKIAN THEMES ROBERT J. STAINTON THIS chapter introduces three arguments that share a single conclusion: that a comprehensive science of language cannot (and should not try to) describe relations of semantic reference, i.e. word-world relations. Spelling this out, if there is to be a genuine science of linguistic meaning (yielding theoretical insight into underlying realities, aiming for integration with other natural sciences), then a theory of meaning cannot involve assigning external, real-world, objects to names, nor sets of external objects to predicates, nor truth values (or world-bound thoughts) to sentences. Most of the chapter tries to explain and defend this broad conclusion. The chapter also presents, in a very limited way, a positive alternative to external-referent semantics for expressions. This alternative has two parts: first, that the meanings of words and sentences are mental instructions, not external things; second, as Strawson (1950) stressed, that it is people who refer (and who express thoughts) by using words and sentences, and wordlsentence meanings play but a partial role in allowing speakers to talk about the world. I am very grateful to Ash Asudeh, Alex Barber, Akeel Bilgrami, Andrew BottereU, Andy Brook, Ray Elugardo, Corinne Iten, Ernie Lepore, David Matheson, Julius Moravcsik, Paul Pietroski, Aryn Pyke, Jim McGilvray, Ray Jackendoff, and Catherine Wearing for comments on earlier drafts. Work on this chapter was supported financially by grants from the Canada Research Chairs program, the Ontario Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
3 ' features of a naturally occurring phenomenon, always looking forward to eventual integration with the core natural sciences.' Second, just as the sciences in general do not feel overly constrained by what "folk theorizing" suggests, or by how ordinary folks use words, for the Chomskian, linguistics and psychology are allowed to (indeed, they are expected to) put common sense conceptions aside, and to use terms in specialized ways, etc. Indeed, as Chomsky (1993: 25) rightly suggests, modern science gets going precisely when one is willing to be surprised by what are, from the perspective of common sense, "simple phenomena": e.g. that rocks fall, that people get sick and die, that a phrase is ambiguous, et~.~ Third, since the sciences in general take their evidence wherever they can find it, there can be, for the methodological naturalist, no a priori restrictions on evidence in psychology or linguistics. On these grounds alone, much that has become conventional wisdom in the study of language-whether deriving from common sense talk, or from abstract philosophizing-has to be re-evaluated carefully. If one studies the mind and language this way, taking preconceptions with a grain of salt, scientific inquiry into the salient natural object reveals-continues this line of thought-two less immediate implications. First, that the mature speakerlhearer's mind contains far more information than can be gleaned from the environment. This is the finding of the poverty of the stimulus. The most natural explanation of this finding, and the one that any unbiased scientist would immediately pursue, is that the human mind, including in particular the part of it responsible for language, benefits from a substantial innate endowment. A different though related hypothesis that emerges in this scientific endeavor is that the mind is divided, by nature, into a series of specialized faculties-rather than being, say, a homogenous "cognitionllearning machine". This is the empirical hypothesis of modularity, with the language faculty being a case in point.4 For the methodological naturalist, that some people find these latter results initially counterintuitive carries no real weight: after all, one should no more trust "intuitions'' about brain structure and brain development than one should trust intuitions about the development and structure of the liver. See Chomsky, 1992a: 19, Chomsky, 1992b: 53 and Chomsky, For the idea of "knowledge that would suffice for interpretation", see Davidson, 1976, which builds on Foster For a very balanced comparison of this and other philosophical projects with Chomsky's naturalist one, see B. Smith, A trenchant critique of the former projects may be found in Antony This does not, of course, entail that Moore-style "common sense propositions"-e.g. "that there exist now both a sheet of paper and a human hand (Moore, 1939: 165)-should be rejected as false. As will emerge below, the methodological naturalist perspective does not conflict with common sense views about particular matters; rather, it pursues a different path entirely. As Chomsky (1995b: 138-9) writes: "It is not that ordinary discourse fails to talk about the world, or that the particulars it describes do not exist, or that the accounts are too imprecise. Rather, the categories used and principles invoked need not have even loose counterparts in naturalistic inquiry". It's worth noting that Chomsky employs a different notion of 'module' than, say, Fodor, (1983) does. Also, some read Chomsky as merely stipulating that linguistics, in his sense, studies what he labels "I-language": the intensionally characterized rules internal to the individual language faculty. This understates his claims. Chornsky's point, I take it, is that an unbiased methodological naturalist will study I-language, rather than other possible constructs, because the I-language construct turns out to correspond to a real aspect of the natural world that emerges in careful inquiry, whereas other constructs do not. Again, see Bezuidenhout, this volume, for more.
5 y-- MEANING AND REFERENCE: SOME CHOMSKIAN THEMES 917 reasons. First, not all true sentences mean the same thing, nor do all false sentences mean the same thing: 'Five is larger than two' is not synonymous with 'France is in ~urope', though both are true. So truth values are not finely grained enough to be meanings. Second, it's not obvious that sentences are even the right kind of thing to be truelfalse. Certainly many sentences are explicitly context sensitive: 'He bought that yesterday', for instance, is at best only true relative to an assignment of values for 'he', 'that', and 'yesterday'. Thus, this sentence just isn't the sort of entity to even have a truth value tout court. To overcome the first problem, one can take sentences to denote not truth values but propositions made up of objects and ~roperties; or one can take them to have a truth value as referent, but a Fregean Thought as sense; or one can take the meaning of a sentence to be truth-conditions. such are the treatments of natural language sentences proposed by the contemporary ~ussellian, Fregean, and Tarskian respectively. These distinctions about sentence meanings, though important for other purposes, can be glossed over here: in the present chapter, I will speak vaguely of indicative sentences "expressing thoughts". To overcome the second problem, that natural language sentences contain contextsensitive items like 'he', 'that 1, and 'yesterday', one can say that such sentences express not thoughts exactly, but "proto-thoughts": something which is true or false relative to a set of contextual parameters (time, place, speaker, addressee). Such, then, is the first plank of the view to be reje~ted.~ Typically added to this idea, in "mainstream" philosophy of language, is the assumption that languages are the common property of a whole community, such that the symbolic items (words, predicates, sentences) are all public property. Languages, on this view, exist independently of speakers; and, being a public entity, each speaker typically has only a partial grasp of hislher shared language. This is the second plank of the view to be rejected. (For more on the Chomskyan target, see Bezuidenhout, this volume.) THE THREE NEGATIVE ARGUMENTS The Radical "Argument from Ontology" Having clarified what the target is, and what makes the critiques in question broadly "Chomskian", I turn to the negative arguments. The view at issue invokes relations between public linguistic items on the one hand (names, predicates, sentences) and worldly items on the other (external objects, sets, world-bound thoughts). Obviously, then, the relata must be able to stand in the Famously, the philosopher-logicians who are taken to be the grandfathers of this tradition-i.e. Frege, Russell, and Tarski-explicitly disavowed the idea that natural languages, in all their messy detail, could be treated this way. It was their contemporary philosophical followers, most notably Davidson (1967) andmontague (1974), who took the analogy between logical and natural languages literally. Chomsky et nl. emphatically agree with the grandfathers, and disagree with their contemporary heirs.
6 requisite relations, including in particular (something like) the denotation relation. But, patently, the relata can't do this job if they aren't real. The first negative argument questions whether they are. The widespread idea, to be questioned here, is that there are public signs, of shared languages, available to have referents: words, phrases and sentences that belong to languages like English, Urdu, and Swahili. In what follows, I will introduce three worries about this idea, to give the flavor of the thing. (One could easily raise many more.) The first problem has to do with individuation of words given variation. Crucially, as actual working linguists are wont to note, the way we divide up languages in common sense, and in much philosophical theorizing, does not actually correspond to any robust divide. One speaks of "Chinese" as a single language, despite the fact that its two largest "dialects", Mandarin and Cantonese, are not mutually intelligible. In contrast, we call Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian different languages, rather than speaking of several dialects of Romance, just as we treat Swedish and Danish as different languages-this despite the fad that they are much more similar to each other, and far closer to mutual intelligibility, than the "dialects of Chinese" are. The only semi-robust divide here is mutual intelligibility and, as noted, "languages" are not divlded along those lines. One might reasonably reply that this worry can be overcome by thinking of words as belonging to dialects, not languages. But that won't really help, since what counts as a dialect is equally peculiar: Canadian English is supposed to be a single dialect, despite the many differences between speakers in urban centers and rural areas, and differences among the East, Central Canada, and the West; it also is supposed to be a different dialect than what is spoken in, say, Ohio. Clearly, we slice things as we do-both "languages" and "dialects n -not because of any robust linguistic divide, but because of colonial history, similar writing systems, shared canonical works of literature, present military might, arbitrary national boundaries, religious differences. and so on. That, and not "nature's ioints", is what makes it the case that people "speak the same languageldialect". As Chomsky puts it, "This idea [of a common public language] is completely foreign to the empirical study of language... What are called "languages" or "dialects" in ordinary usage are complex amalgams determined by colors on maps, oceans, political institutions and so on, with obscure normative-teleological aspects" (1993: 18-19). (See also Chomsky, 1992b: 48; Chomsky, 1995b: 155 ff, and Bezuidenhout, this volume.) 1 1 Instead of public languagesldialects, the real objects that one hds are (i) individual idiolects, (ii) sets of idiolects that share some non-obvious underlying parametric feature (e.g. having complements falling after heads), and (iii) the universally shared language faculty. None of these, however, corresponds even remotely to "public languages" like English and Urdu. Now, to come to the problem of immediate interest here, if the boundaries around "languages" (or"dialects") don't reflect an objective difference in kind, what individuates a word in a language? What makes it the case, for instance, that distind pronunciations are pronunciations "of the same word", if there aren't really object- 3 ively distinct languages? To take an example, why are 'fotografer' (said in Bombay)
7 / E MEANING AND REFERENCE: SOME CHOMSKIAN THEMES 919 k 6 and 'fo~~hgrafer' (said in Toronto) the same word, yet 'fotografo' (said in Buenos Aires) is not the same word as the former two? We are wont to say that there are wo words here-the "English" word and the "Spanish" word-not three words. BU~ this won't do, if "English" isn't objectively real: after all, all three differ in pronunciation. For that matter, even within a single country, or a single part of a country, there can be many "different pronunciations of the same word. So, as noted, appeal to local dialects isn't likely to help either. For instance, even within the Eastern united States, there are many pronunciations of 'Harvard'. More than that, children don't pronounce things the same way adults do, women don't pronounce things the same as men, and so on. Given variation, there thus seems to be no good reason to count public words the way common sense wishes to: we can't put aside the differences on reasonable grounds. A natural reply to this first problem about counting words is that a dialect, or a language, is the symbol system shared by community such-and-such. But this reply is quite unhelpful, for at least two reasons. First, a specific worry: it's not possible to individuate the right community except by appeal to shared language. In particular, as we saw above, mutual intelligibility won't allow us to distinguish groups along lines that correspond to "languages". What "the community" for whom 'foto- GRAFer' and 'fotahgrafer' are supposedly one word really have in common, and what distinguishes this "community" from others, is that everyone in it speaks English! A broader worry is that communities are no more "robust" than languages turned out to be. So even if one could divide languages in terms of which communities used them, this still wouldn't yield the kind of robust divide that the methodological naturalist demands. There is a second reason why it is hard to individuate "public language words", beyond the problem of individuation in the face of across-speaker variation. It has to do with how to count words even granting the existence of languagesldialects. To pick an example essentially at random, is there one word 'forge' which has multiple meanings: create a fraudulent imitation, shape by heating in a fire and hammering, and firnace or hearth for melting or refining metal? Or are there three words, one for each meaning?' And, even restricting ourselves to one of the meanings, are 'forged', 'forges', and 'forging' wholly different words, or are they merely variations on the same word? What about the tensed verb 'forged', as in 'He forged the document', the past participle, as in 'He has forged many documents' and the adjective as in 'A forged document'? Are they precisely the same word, wholly different words, or variations on a single word? Also, if there is just one word here, or variations on it, what is that word? Rather than calling out for discovery of something real, these seem matters of decision. In light of these questions about individuation, both across and within a "dialect", one can readily doubt that there is any such thing as "words in English", "sentences ' And note the potential problem of circularity, if one does individuate words by their meanings. Meaning, recall, is supposed to derive from having two things stand in a relation. But now it turns out that one of the relata, on the "word" side, is individuated in terms of the other.
8 in Swahili", and so forth. To echo Quine, one might insist that there can be no entity without identity. But if there are no such objects, there patently cannot be a science of word-world relations that pairs "public words and sentences" with worldly objects, sets, and proto-tho~ghts.~ (Granted, for all that's been said so far, there might be other things that can be paired with external objects: morphemes of an individuars mental lexicon, for instance. But this possibility offers little solace to the kind of theorist that Chomskians are targeting.) I said that I would introduce three problems about words. The third one involves issues about language norms. Though almost universally used among "English speaking" children, 'broke&, 'runned', 'swirnrned' and so on are not "words in English"? Or again, despite its constant appearance in speech and writing, there isn't supposed to be a word in English that means it is to be hoped that, and is pronounced 'hopefully'. On the other hand, supposedly there is an English word pronounced 'ke-naw', because that's how Shakespeareans said 'know'; and there is, according to my Oxford dictionary, an English word 'peavey', even though almost no one would recognize it as such. These latter items aren't used, but they are "English words"; the fonner items are used, but aren't "English words". Clearly, what rules these words in or out is not how people do speak, but rather something about how they should speak. It's at least not obvious how there can really be such things, to stand in objective relations with external objects, sets thereof, and so on. I pause to quickly summarize, before introducing a major objection to this line of argument. Because there is no objective way to individuatelcount words (across or within a "dialect"), and because what makes something a shared, public word, if there really were any, would need to appeal to "ought" rather than "is", the Chomskian concludes that there aren't really any "public words". But then there cannot be a comprehensive science of language that pairs words (and sentences) with external things. Such is the radical argument from ontology. A natural reaction to the claim that words (e.g. 'forged', 'photographer' and 'Harvard') are not real objects is perplexed disbelief that the claim has been seriously made. Surely it's just obvious that words exist. Besides, if an argument is needed, there is this: here we are discussing the various pronunciations of the words 'Harvard' and 'photographer'; and above it was said that the word 'peavey' exists because of norms. But how can something which doesn't exist have different For those familiar with Chomsky's (1986) terminology, the central point may be put like this: public language words/sentences are part of the E-language picture, and the methodological naturalist must eschew E-language as not a suitable candidate for scientific study. See Bezuidenhout, this volume, for discussion. This point relates to another one that Chomsky regularly raises. Public language approaches are at a loss to find a "thing" which children under, say, six years of age know. They don't yet "know English" (or Swahili, or Urdu, or...). Indeed, there is no "public language" which they know at this age. But then how, positively, are we to describe the state of their minds? It seems absurd that we can only make the negative claim: i.e. that they do not yet know English (or Swahili, or Urdu, or...), but are on the way to doing so. Note too, how well such children communicate. This puts the lie to the idea that having "a shared public language" is genuinely necessary for communication.
9 MEANING AND REFERENCE: SOME CHOMSKIAN THEMES 921 pronunciations--as the argument itself grants that 'Hanard' and 'photographer' do? And surely, if something exists because of norms, then it exists. (Indeed, we seem to infer the non-existence of words on the grounds that 'peavey' exists! That's patently absurd.) Our discussion thus seems to give rise to paradox. Given the obviousness of the existence of words, and the paradoxes that quickly arise from denying their existence, it's hard to see how it could be suggested, at least with a straight face, that public words do not really exist. There are several replies to this natural worry. On the one hand, one can agree that these things are real enough, but go on to question whether there could be a science that treated of them. Where by 'a science' is meant, to repeat, rather more than "any inquiry that is both theoretical and empirical". As hinted at the outset, 'science' in the context of methodological naturalism means, at a minimum, seeking explanatory insight; which in turn entails positing underlying realities, and aiming for integration with the core natural sciences. Many things exist which are not subject to scientific investigation, in this sense. This concessive reply will be considered at length in the second negative argument. To anticipate briefly here, the core idea is that the standard for being a "real object" has been set too high in the discussion above. It's not just public languages and words, but corporations, songs, countries, universities, national dishes, hair styles, TV shows, etc., that won't really exist given this over-high standard. Indeed, it's arguable on similar grounds that none of us exist: to see why, think of the enormous puzzles about how to individuate persons. A natural alternative view, which doesn't set the standard so high, is that perfectly real objects can be quite hard to individuatelcount, and can be norm-bound. They need not require a "robust divide", but can rather be objectively different only in degree, with human interests setting the kind-divide between them. One could thus allow that there is such a thing as English (and other public tongues), and that the nature of English and the wordslsentences in it depend on a host of complex relations (political, military, historical, religious, etc.)-including even explicitly normative ones having to do with "correct speech". Adding, goes the reply, that this does not make English and its elements unreal. Personally, I think there is something very importantly right about this. Still, the key point that will re-emerge in negative argument two is that, even granting this, one is hard-pressed to rescue the idea that a genuine science of language can, or should try to, describe word-world relations. Indeed, the account proposed of what makes words and languages real-e.g. that their individuation rests on norms, quirky anthropocentric interests, and a complex mess of other things-pretty much ensures that they will not be scientifically tractable. More than that, if that's what makes something a "word", it's not even plausible that "public word" will be an idealization that will be of any use in science. As Chomsky puts the general point: Such informal notions as Swedish-vs.-Danish, norms and conventions, or misuse of language are generally unproblematic under conditions of normal usage, as is "near New York" or "looks like Mary". But they can hardly be expected to enter into attempts to reach theoretical understanding. (1993: 20)
10 922 ROBERT I. STAINTON - As I say, this concessive reply will be elaborated at length in the next section. But there are non-concessive replies too, which try to defend the radical version of the "argument from ontology" according to which one side of the supposed relations (i.e. the public words/sentences) just do not exist at all. Let me introduce a couple of those replies here. That there are no public words or languages strikes us as absurd, but-goes the first reply-that is because we are taken in by an illusion of some sort. Part of the concept of "public word", the argument would go, is that the things in question are "out there", the shared property of many. They are not inside the mind. Given this, the public word 'Harvard', the story would go, is "unreal" in roughly the same way that the sky, the daily sunset, perceived colour, and rainbows are not real considered as external objects. In all these cases, we project "out there" something that is really an amalgam of things going on inside the mind, and (non-obvious) things that are going on in the external world: "the structure of language is not "out in the world but [is] rather a consequence of the mental organization of language users" (Jackendoff, 1987: 133). Ordinary people cannot fail to think of the sky, the sunset, blueness, and rainbows as mind-external objects, wholly out in the world, even after careful scientific training. But what scientific investigation teaches is that, appearances notwithstanding, they are partly in the individual mind. (Importantly, being open to taking these results seriously, thereby setting aside common sense, is part and parcel of being a methodological naturalist.) The illusion that there really are public words, words "out there" that we share, is reinforced by the fact that people talk about words. An egregious case in point, as noted: the very argument against the existence of words apparently used as premises claims about words. But, coming to the second reply, that we talk about, say, 'Harvard', does not actually entail that there is a public word "out there" that we share. On the one hand, speakers regularly refer to things that simply do not exist: Santa, unicorns, the present King of France, etc.1 On the other hand, even if there are some unquestionably real things that we refer to, when we speak of the word 'Harvard', there needn't be a single object which is the public word. A plausible alternative view is that there are many, many words 'Haward'. For some purposes, we count all pronunciations as constituting "the word 'Harvard' "; for other purposes, we count only very few. And so on. We refer to different sets on different occasions, depending upon the context. The resulting sets are real, and they are intersubjective. Sta, there isn't one thing, the word 'Haward'. (See Bilgrami 2002 for this general line of thought.) Hence we can consistently talk about "the different pronunciations of 'Harvard' ", without committing ourselves to there being one unique thing, that publicly shared word, that can stand in a refers-to relation. If the foregoing considerations work, then there cannot be a comprehensive sci- Indeed, what makes this the "radical variant" is that if this criticism is success 'O Put rnetalinguistically, reports of speaker reference are referentially opaque in a way that ex^ reference, if it existed, would not be. See Bencivenga, 1983 for extended discussion; see also Jack 1987: 127 and Chomsky, 1995b: 150.
11 MEANING AND REFERENCE: SOME CHOMSKIAN THEMES not only can there be no comprehensive science of word-world relations, there can be no truths of any kind that state relations between public words and worldly entities. (How could there be, if there aren't any public words?) The Moderate "Argument from Ontology" (Science and Common Sense) The first "argument from ontology" involved arguing that public words don't exist at all. The second "argument from ontology" accepts the reality of both relata. But it questions whether there can be a genuine science of the kind of common sense objects involved on both sides of the relation." Crucial to the argument wiu be the contrast between the world revealed to us by common sense, and that revealed by modern scientific inquiry. We therefore need a way to draw that distinction. The methodological naturalist thinks there is a way to draw it, given nativism and modularity: we can distinguish the world revealed by common sense from the world revealed by science cognitively, in terms of the kinds of concepts deployed. The concepts of common sense, in the sense intended here: are not social artifacts, but are rather part of our biological endowment; more precisely, they are constructed from innately given semantic features-though only the elements out of which the concepts are constructed are innate (and universal), not the resulting wholes; (See Chomsky 2000b: 185.) are acquired (rather than learned), and they do not need to be taught-indeed, given the poverty of stimulus, it's unlikely that they could be learned byitaught to a creature lacking the requisite innate endowment; are at the disposal of every non-pathological human; bring with them a rich and complex internal structure that eschews elegance in favor of day-to-day practicality, especially for living in human company-precisely because they are built out of an innately given store of features; have, finally, and related to this last point, inherently built in implicit references to human hierarchies, rightsiobligations, and our intentional states, rather than aiming for an objective description of the world, independent of us. Scientific concepts, in sharp contrast, are social artifacts.12 More than that, a useful scientific concept is often a hard-won achievement of many years of collective labor. Such concepts must be taught; and frequently enough they cannot be learned, even by non-pathological people. Their content is austere, rather than rich. And, far from l1 That the issue is a science of public words, and public languages, is missed by some of Chomsky's critics. See, for example, Wiggins, l2 I am unsure whether Chomsky himself would endorse what follows. He sometimes suggests that humans have a "science forming faculty", and if scientific concepts derive from it then they are not especially social after all. Since Chomsky exegesis is not my aim, however, I leave this issue aside here. (Thanks are due to Julius Moravcsik for drawing my anention to the issue.)
12 924 ROBERT J. STAINTON being tied to anthropocentric interests, the whole idea of a scientific concept is to capture how things "really are" independent of us. It is telling, too, that science involves explicit reflection not just on the concepts it creates to describe and explain, but also on what counts as good evidence, justification, etc. Those standards of evaluation too are sanctioned by groups, over extended periods of time; they aren't just "given by nature". Sciences, and scientific concepts, are thus artifacts of a social practice, rather than being innately specified-which allows, as Chomsky (1993: 32) suggests, that science can afford to disregard common sense, and is happy to move beyond some ofits tenets. The overall picture can be summed up with the following long passage from Chomsky's Language and Thought: We have, by now, fairly substantial evidence that one of the components of the mind-brain is a language faculty, dedicated to language and its use-where by "language", now, we mean human language, not various metaphoric extensions of the term. Other components provide "common sense understanding" of the world and our place in it... Other components make it possible for humans to conduct scientific and mathematical inquiry, and sometimes to achieve remarkable insight: we may call them "the science-forming faculty", to dignify ignorance with a title. These could be quite different in character from those that yield "common sense understanding" in its various forms. It is an open empirical question, and no dogmatism is in order. The history of modem science perhaps suggests that the distinctions are not trivial; at least, that is one way to interpret the startling conflicts that have arisen between common sense understanding and what scientific inquiry reveals. (Chomsky 1993: 34-5) Having contrasted science and common sense, we can now note that the concepts fall into two families, and add that each collectively provides a perspective.13 What does the "scientific perspective" show us? Quarks, tectonic plates, genomes, and many other things. (To be clear, the scientific perspective does not merely reveal socalled "physical" objects; the mind-brain, at various levels of abstraction, can also be seen from this perspective. That, indeed, is just what linguistics is supposed to help reveal. And, of course, the common sense perspective does not merely reveal psychological states: it affords views of desks, house pets, tea, and toys.) Importantly, however, there is lots that the scientific perspective does not show us: it does not encompass normative categories like good wine, liveable cities, or well-prepared osso bucco; nor does it even encompass not-explicitly normative yet mind-dependent things like clouds,i4 tea,15 desks, sunsets, breakfast cereal, and hockey scores. In I' Chomsky (1993: 48) writes: "The information provided by lexical items and other expressions yields for thinking and speaking about the world..." Or again, "a lexical item provides us with a certain range of perspectives for viewing what we take to be things in the world, or what we conceive in other ways; these items are like filters or lenses providing ways of looking at things and thinking about the products of our minds" (Chomsky, 1992a: 36). l4 On the natural assumption that whether a quantity of water in the atmosphere is a cloud depends upon mind-dependent relations-lie being visible, in normal circumstances, to the naked eye of normal humans. 'j As Chomsky has frequently noted, what is chemically the very same substance could be tea-if created by dipping a bag of tea leaves into a cup of hot water-or contaminated water-if created, say,